Wow, how do you pull off a documentary on the fear of death? I mean it’s such a broad subject and it’s something that absolutely everyone can relate to because whether we’re conscious of it or not, we’re running from death every day. George Carlin put it plain and simply once, “That’s the whole meaning of life – not dying!” That’s a fact and we all know it, so what were filmmaker Patrick Shen and crew going to present us that we didn’t already know and how were they going to do it in just under 90 minutes? I had to find out. So, 85 minutes later, I walked out of the theater with a head full of ideas, totally enlightened. I’m not saying this film changed my life, but I’m also not saying that it’s unable to make one change the way their live their life. Unfortunately, it most always takes a near death experience for that kind of transformation to take place inside someone, but let me recommend this documentary instead – it can be just as thought provoking without all that danger and tragedy.
Narrated by Gabriel Byrne, “Flight from Death” was inspired by the works and writings of cultural anthropologist and social theorist Ernest Becker who had some controversial ideas about death anxiety and how it differentiates humans from other living species. Patrick Shen travels the globe capturing the behavior of different cultures as they deal with the dead and dying. He also interviews an impressive line-up of scholars, professors, authors and philosophers who bring with them a wealth of information, including results from various experiments conducted revealing the effects of death anxiety on our every day behavior.
“Flight from Death” is fascinating through and through and it’s nowhere near as dark and depressing as one might think a documentary on death would be. Not only thought-provoking, “Flight from Death” is also entertaining, put together with a lot of class by Shen. It’s not often that you can say that a movie is absolutely for everyone, so it’s my pleasure to say that about this one. “Flight from Death” is something everyone needs to see, so that maybe, just maybe, we can make our peace with death and get on with living.